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Captain Spock snapped to attention as his father materialized on the transporter platform aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701-A. He understood that Sarek was not coming to visit him, per se, but was there in his official capacity, and Spock could easily separate these two distinct roles of the Vulcan statesman. He stepped out from behind the transporter controls and nodded cordially. Spock would treat their distinguished visitor with the same respectful attitude that he would show any representative of the Federation. Captain Kirk was much more ebullient as he stepped forward and held out his hand. "Ambassador, good to see you again!" "Captain Kirk," said Sarek with as much warmth as he could muster, which wasn't much. "I am glad to see that you are well and recovered from your recent travails." Kirk smiled. "I'm never turning myself over to the Klingons again." "Those were unfortunate circumstances," said Sarek. "However, you admirably demonstrated that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Thanks to the actions of you, Dr. McCoy, and your crew, a disaster was averted." "AII in a day's work." At last, Sarek turned to his son. Except for the graying hair, he was little changed from the man Spock had known his entire life. A handsome, robust man, Sarek was only 138 years old, still in the prime of life for a Vulcan. Captain Spock," said Sarek in a cordial tone. "I have not fully thanked you for your part in saving the conference at Khitomer." Spock cocked his head. "It was only logical to make peace with the Klingons." "And do you believe it is equally logical to seek peace with the Romulans?" asked Sarek. The ambassador turned to Captain Kirk, whose mouth was dropping open. "First the Klingons, now the Romulans?" he asked. "Are we going to make friends with everybody?" "In essence, Captain, that is precisely what we are doing. In a way, your new assignment is more important than a mere treaty, because it will set in motion events that will eventually lead to the unification of Vulcans and Romulans." Silence greeted Sarek's remark. Spock quickly looked over at Kirk, who appeared anxious to question the ambassador further. The Vulcan nodded slightly in the direction of his commanding officer and friend and was gratified to see an expression of understanding on Kirk's face. They would talk later. But now Spock had questions of his own for his father. "Have our discussions with Pardek yielded results?" he asked. "Possibilities," Sarek replied. He looked around, as if doubting that the transporter room of the Enterprise was secure enough to contain this conversation. "These matters must remain secret for a time, as few Romulans can risk discussing the theory that both our races are descended from the same ancestors." Spock nodded. "One can understand why; the data on our common ancestors is mostly apocryphal. Genetic tests have also proven inconclusive." "Yes," agreed Sarek. "We need a stronger test, one that will convince the Vulcan Science Academy to back our plans. With the Vulcan Science Academy on our side, we can proceed to the next logical step; without them, we will not even receive a hearing. We need proof that goes beyond mere biology -- to the core of what it means to be a Vulcan." The ambassador's expression changed slightly, not so much that Kirk would notice, but Spock realized that they were about to discuss something personal. Sarek gazed at his son. "I asked the two of you to meet me alone, because we have both family matters and ritual matters to discuss. They directly affect this mission. Normally, outworlders would not be privileged to hear this information, but Captain Kirk participated in your koon-ut-kal-if-fee, and the fal-tor-pan which restored you to us. He has demonstrated his respect for our traditions." "Ambassador Sarek, I appreciate your confidence," said Kirk, "and since you have placed so much trust in me, I feel I must speak frankly. I don't think you should make any kind of deal with the Romulans. They may look like Vulcans, but your cultures are quite literally worlds apart." Sarek smoothed a wrinkle out of his robes. "That remains to be seen, Captain. We were once much like the Romulans-brutal, treacherous-until we learned to control our emotions." He looked intently at Captain Kirk. "We have a unique opportunity. High Priestess T'Lar has agreed to perform the koon-ut-la ceremony between a Vulcan female and a Romulan male. If these children go through pon farr in the seventh year of their adult life, we will know that the similarities between Vulcans and Romulans are far deeper than appearance. The Vulcan Science Academy will be forced to give serious attention to our theory, and so will open-minded factions on Romulus and Remus." Spock suddenly realized why he and the Enterprise had been chosen for this assignment. "Teska," he said. "Yes, your niece." Spock bowed to his father. "I will be honored to perform my duties as pele-ut-la. " "What is that?" Kirk asked warily. Sarek replied, "The role of pele-ut-la, or chaperone, is a traditional duty for an uncle. But since the child has no uncles, I have arranged for Spock to serve instead. One complication is that Teska's parents are dead, and she is living with her grandfather, Sopeg, who teaches geology at Starfleet Academy. Spock must accompany Teska from Earth to Vulcan with a stop on the way, and he needs the Enterprise for that. The boy and his father are coming to Vulcan by a circuitous route, and we must be ready when they arrive." "Wait a minute," said Kirk, holding up his hands. "You're betting the whole idea of reunification between Vulcans and Romulans on whether these two children, who have never met each other, go through with a marriage when they grow up?" "There are significant risks," Sarek acknowledged. "If they fail, our cause will be set back decades. Perhaps Vulcans and Romulans will never be unified, because we may never have a priestess with the stature of T'Lar who is willing to officiate."
Copyright © 1997 by John Vornholt